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  1. Maguire, Denise PhD, RN, CNL
  2. Webb, Mary PhD, RN
  3. Passmore, Denise PhD
  4. Cline, Genieveve DNP, NNP-BC


PURPOSE: The primary aim of this qualitative methods study was to describe the lived experiences of neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) nurses with ethical and morally challenging issues.


SUBJECTS: The target population for the study was registered nurses working in the NICU. Interviews were completed with 16 nurses from 1 hospital.


DESIGN: A phenomenological method design was used to describe NICU nurses' lived experiences with ethical and moral issues encountered in the NICU.


METHODS: After obtaining signed consent, the principal investigator interviewed all participants, using a semistructured interview guide consisting of open-ended questions.


MAIN OUTCOMES: Ethical and moral distress related to neonatal abstinence syndrome was the predominant outcome.


PRINCIPAL RESULTS: Caring for infants, coping with families, and discharging infants home were the major concerns voiced by nurses in this study.


CONCLUSIONS: Nurses in this study struggled with issues of beneficence and nonmaleficence and were not aware of scientific evidence that guides methadone management of pregnant women.